Joshua Benton over at NiemanLab is right: NPRbackstory is brilliant. Mostly because it’s so simple: A script takes trending Google searches as input, queries the NPR API, and spits out related stories. But the related stories aren’t necessarily new; sometimes they’re years old. And that’s a feature, not a bug.
“The NPR content is more rich in its breadth than it is in timeliness,” Keith said. “That’s probably true of most news archives. But the Internet places a high value on timeliness, and I was looking at the API saying, ‘There’s nothing timely here!'”
So he hit on the idea of providing the backstory to subjects currently in the news. “I think there’s this yearning for meaning in our content,” he said. “We want a lot of the same information, but packaged differently. I thought something that looked at the context or the background for something would be something I’d welcome seeing in my Twitter feed.”
Reasons to like this:
- Gives good journalism a boost up out of the archives and back into view.
- Reveals hidden context behind the things people are talking about today. (P.S. Our memories are short.)
- The entire app is a few APIs stitched together with Yahoo! Pipes. How can you not love that?
Here’s the Twitter feed.